Colin Middleton (1910-1983)

Babylonian Dream, Meenbanad (1972)


60cm x 60cm approx

Private Collection

Colin Middleton was born in Belfast in 1910, becoming one of the great landscape and figure painters of the 20th century. His father was a damask designer and after leaving Belfast Royal Academy in 1927, Middleton joined him as an apprentice.

Middleton attended the Belfast College of Art for evening and morning classes, studying design under Newton Penprase. In 1935 he became an Associate of the Royal Ulster Academy and in the same year his father died, leaving the responsibility of the damask business with Middleton. In 1941 he showed at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and in 1943 the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery (Ulster Museum) staged an exhibition of his work.

After some time with his wife and family in England, Middleton returned to Northern Ireland in 1948, settling in Ardglass, Co. Down. The following year he exhibited at the Oireacthas, Dublin and in 1950 was represented in the New Irish Painters Exhibition, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, USA. In 1954 the Middleton moved to Bangor, Co. Down where he began a teaching career while continuing to exhibit in Belfast, Dublin and London.

Middleton had a powerful imagination and held the ability to highlight the colourful features of ordinary objects and individuals. His style often changed in response to criticism and responses to his work.

Painted in 1972, Babylonian Dream, Meenbanad demonstrates the complexity of Middleton’s approach to the landscape in his later work, synthesising the visual appearance of a particular place and a sense of the effect of weather together with intrinsic elements of its geology, history and mythology. The small, almost hidden door in the rocks also recalls Middleton’s renewed interest in Surrealism in the 1970s.